Can the Blues break their Tiger hoodoo?

Once again, according to tradition, Richmond will face Carlton in the season opener tonight at the MCG.

It is obvious that Richmond is the clear favorite. They have been the benchmark of the competition for the past four seasons, winning three of the last four flags. The Tigers have also won their previous ten meetings against the Blues.

It is difficult to see this broken streak tonight, the Blues not being at full power. They are missing four attackers; Charlie Curnow with constant knee issues, Jack Martin with calf strain, Mitch McGovern with hamstring issues and Eddie Betts with calf issues.

It gives Lachie Fogarty the opportunity to debut forward and see the difference he can make. It also gives Harry McKay a chance to continue his goal-scoring form from last year, with Jack Silvagni continuing his impressive pre-season form.

Richmond poses a serious threat forward with three scary good names: Dustin Martin, Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt. Martin won the Norm Smith medal for the third time last year, winning it in Richmond’s three recent premier victories. He is quite possibly the best player in the competition and Liam Jones has a huge job on him tonight. Lynch has been outstanding since moving to Punt Road, scoring 95 goals in two seasons.

One thing Blues fans should be excited about is seeing Adam Saad run through the back line and midfield and show he might be worth a trade for the Bombers. He showed his form in the preseason against St Kilda with 21 assignments and a long-range goal.

Despite losing the last ten encounters to Richmond, Carlton has been competitive and has come close on a few of those occasions. Looks like tonight could be similar, but another big plus includes the Giants’ high-profile trade; Zac Williams. He was suspended for a hit on Hunter Clark in preseason. That night he had 17 assignments and two goals.

Part of Carlton’s problem is consistency – they often won’t play four quarters. He showed up against St Kilda in the preseason; despite a drag for most of the night, the Blues stormed home in the final quarter and scored one goal, before being completely outclassed for the rest of the game, dropping 26 points. The last time the Blues met Richmond, they trailed up to 50 points before falling to less than three goals and ultimately falling back 24 points. If they continued for most of the game it could have been a different result.

In the first round of 2019, Carlton conceded the game’s first seven goals, before storming the house in the second and third quarters to get under 13 points. Then, they were completely outclassed in the last quarter to drop 33 points. Even in the first game of 2018, the Blues kicked the first five goals of the game, before falling back 26 points at the end.

Carlton has shown he can compete with the best team in the competition, but missing entire games has been the problem. In order to win their first clash against the defending firsts, they have to play four quarters tonight.

But, without a full team available, it could be a similar type of competition. Without a number of key attackers, it’s hard to see them score a winning score. It’s important for Fogarty to show what he’s capable of and see how Saad fits into the camp. It’s also important for the Blues that they show fighting, at the very least.

Prediction: Richmond by 25 points

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